This week I took a look at two educational games that I could potentially use in my classroom. The first game I looked at was “The Voter Suppression Trail” from the New York Times. Overall, I thought the game was enjoyable and was informative about how the votes of many Americans are being suppressed. While there wasn’t any strategy to the game (the whole point of the game is to show that the system is rigged), it does create a good understanding of the problems facing people of color when trying to vote.
Two issues I could see with this game are that many of the “jokes” and “sarcastic comments” could be lost on many students. In addition, the game is pretty critical of Republicans and Donald Trump. As a results, educators should be prepared for the controversy that the game could potentially stir up.
The second game I played was “Win the White House” from iCivics. Overall, this was an excellent game that does a nice job of showing how a campaign is run and helping students understand how the electoral college works. In addition, it introduces a lot of key political issues that inform voter decisions. For the game, the player starts off by selecting a character, political party, and policy platform. Next, the player must debate other members of their own party to receive the nomination. This requires the player to identify key issues and show that they understand how they may affect people.
Once the player has won the nomination, they must next fund raise, poll, make appearances and create advertisements that will help them win support across the electoral map.
One thing I also liked about this game was that you can choose to play at an elementary, middle school or high school level. This is a great feature since I’ve played other iCivics games that are easy too childish for students or contain concepts and vocabulary that is too advanced. Nice to see them differentiating the content!